Monday, September 11, 2006

The Bertone Revolution

On this third day of his Bavarian homecoming, the Pope prayed at his baptismal font and spent most of his schedule at the prominent shrine at Altotting, where he preached on the mother of Jesus, as he will again tomorrow in Regensburg when he says the Mass of the (recently-restored) feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

Meanwhile, back in Rome, the aforementioned anxiety keeps building toward Friday's long-anticipated rollout of the Vatican's new Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcicio Bertone, SDB. The officials and staff of the Holy See's "front office" will be transported to Castel Gandolfo the morning after the Pope's return, where Benedict will thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano for his years of service to the church's geopolitical engagement and introduce Bertone, his longtime collaborator who will deliver the foreseen dose of tough medicine to the diplomatic apparatus. Mark your calendars: the encounter will be broadcast by the CTV, the Vatican's television network.

Time's Jeff Israely looks at the transition and the Great Dreamer, himself:
[W]hile the Pope enjoys his homecoming this week... Vatican insiders say the beginning of the Benedict era back at the Roman Curia begins in earnest this fall. Some, in fact, predict that Bertone — a longtime trusted confidante of the former Cardinal Ratzinger — was handpicked to be Secretary of State in order to usher in a virtual revolution in the way Catholic Church headquarters operates. Through an effort that will be part downsizing, part priority overhaul, the theologian pontiff is said to want Church headquarters to be both a more holy and a more efficient entity.
...and repeats something which has been no secret for some time:
Additional Vatican offices are bound to close or get consolidated. With the more powerful and longer standing "Congregations" less likely to get chopped, eyes are focused on the "Pontifical Councils" that are a relatively recent addition to the Curia hierarchy. Those offices with dossiers for laity, family and Christian Unity could well get folded into others.
Israely also notes that we shouldn't be surprised if "Georg the Elder" -- Msgr Ratzinger, the Papstbruder -- takes up permanent residence in the Apostolic Palace in short order.

As if you didn't realize it before, even the Pope needs company.

AP/Giancarlo Giuliani/Pool